What is Pilates?
Have you ever done Pilates?
It seems as if everyone has - or knows someone who has - because it’s so much in the public consciousness.
You can do it:
At the gym
At the physio
At a community centre
Or even, at a Pilates studio!
Back when I first did Pilates (the late 80’s) I didn’t even know what it was and when I started doing it more regularly (the late 90’s) it was by no means popular or well known. If you told someone you did Pilates they looked at you like you were speaking a foreign language because, well, basically you were.
Photo by Ana Municio
Today everyone’s heard of Pilates but I still find that many folks are not too sure what it actually is. When I ask my new clients what they think of when they hear the word Pilates they say something along the lines of, "it’s exercises to get really strong abs", "it'll fix my low back pain", or "it's exercises done on equipment that looks like a torture device" :) All of these can be true but...
Pilates can be so much more than that!
So, what is Pilates? Here are a few ways it could be defined:
- A complete method of exercise, originally known as Contrology, designed to integrate mind, body, and spirit.
- A specific set of exercises designed by Joseph H. Pilates to build strength as well as stretch inside the body.
- Movement based exercises that teach how to move ergonomically from an aligned and centred core.
- Exercises designed to un-learn unhealthy movement patterns and re-train the body to move more functionally.
- A system that advocates aligning the skeleton to the best of one's ability and learning how to move efficiently from there.
- Exercises performed on specifically designed equipment that use body weight and spring resistance to build fluid strength.
Hey, do those sound as good to you as they do to me? Hopefully they make you curious enough to begin (or continue) your Pilates journey with either some classes or private sessions but, what if there was more to Pilates than that?
What if Pilates could be a portal to self discovery or even a philosophical way to look at the world? I know it sounds (okay, I sound) a bit whacky but I'd like to offer up an additional definition.
The Pilates Method is a system of movement based exercises that teaches us HOW TO PAY ATTENTION!! (sorry not sorry for online yelling at you)
It might sound a bit out there but check out what I mean.
Pilates teaches us to:
- Pay Attention to our breath deepening it to create better blood flow throughout our bodies (including our brains). More blood flow = better oxygenation = better health.
- Pay Attention to how we physically move through the world offering us different choices for more ease and efficiency.
- Pay Attention to how strongly our minds can influence our health.
- Pay Attention to our inner selves by tuning in and noticing, learning how to move from the inside out.
- Pay Attention to and trust the innate knowledge we all have, helping us realise that we are the experts on ourselves.
The Pilates Method helps us redefine our relationship to ourselves and the world around us - the way we approach and perform the exercises is how we make that happen.
The longer I practice and teach Pilates the more I truly believe this.
So, is Pilates for everybody?
This I don't believe. We all have to find what resonates personally for us and maybe Pilates is not your jam and that's okee dokee.
What I do believe is that if it’s taught well and modified when necessary, Pilates can be for EVERY BODY!
If you choose to start a Pilates practice it will be a journey - most likely a circuitous one ;-) but it'll be worth it.
Photo by Jacek Dylag
Pilates + Me = My Journey
I practice Pilates because it makes me feel good, it gives me a framework of how to look at my self, how to take responsibility for my health (physical and mental), and how to organise my life. In my mind Pilates is a very elegant method designed to train the body and mind to move efficiently with grace and ease through the world. It asks me to pay attention.
Pilates + You = Your Journey
Pilates can be "just exercise", which, don't get me wrong, is a fabulous thing, but it can also be so much more. For most people Pilates is a life changer but for some it actually becomes a life saver.
What can it do for you? What will it be for you?
The opinions expressed and contained above are provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice. Rebecca Forde & Dragonfly Pilates & Movement disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this post.
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